ANNAPOLIS – The Chesapeake Bayhawks extended their win streak to five games as they move to 6-2 on the season with a tremendous defensive effort in a 9-6 win against the Atlanta Blaze on June 16.
After sweeping the season series against the defending champion Ohio Machine in two consecutive weeks, the Bayhawks were defensively sound to make up for their offensive shortcomings against a speedy Blaze team.
“Every week this week presents so many challenges because everyone is so damn good in this league.” Bayhawks goaltender Niko Amato said after the game in which he was stellar in the cage with 15 saves. “There are nine teams in the league, and the best 19 guys are on each team, so there’s a lot of great lacrosse players out there. So every week we just try to come together and do our best,” he stated.
Steele Stanwick was the offensive star for the Bayhawks scoring four goals including the first of the evening to open the scoring for Chesapeake with 4:10 remaining in the first quarter. Atlanta did answer and took control of the tempo and momentum into the second quarter after building a 3-1 lead.
With 6:29 remaining in the first half Stanwick took over adding two more goals to complete a first-half hat-trick while teammate and former Duke Blue Devil Matt Danowski added another for a 4-3 lead going into halftime. Danowski had an assist on five goals on the afternoon including three of Stanwick’s scores.
“I am in a little bit of a different role, and I was just on the end of a lot of great ball movement plays by a lot of our guys. It was a lot of fun,” Stanwick said. “I’ve been growing up watching Matt (Danowski), and we have done some (team) USA stuff before but never on the same field consistently. I know his eyes are always up, and I’m always moving and trying to get into the right spot, and he found me a lot on the back end today,” he continued.
The Bayhawks extended their lead to 5-3 after an unassisted Myles Jones goal, but Atlanta regained their composure and managed to climb back into the game after being held scoreless for 18 minutes to make it 5-4. Two minutes later the Blaze tied the game at 5-5.
With 2:50 remaining in the third, the Bayhawks had prime extra-man chances to regain the lead including a 5-on-3 advantage that lasted 45 seconds but did not manage to get a single shot on net and went into the fourth tied at 5-5.
Atlanta put the Bayhawks on their heels as they took their first lead of the game since the first half but it was short-lived as Stephen Kelly won the ensuing faceoff and tied the game six seconds later. This spark was all that was needed for the Bayhawks to put the game away as they thrived off plays like that from Kelly.
“In the faceoffs, he limits possessions and limits runs from the other team,” Amato said of his teammate. “I love the faceoff guys. We’ve had the luxury of him being pretty damn good so far this year, and he is the guy I am constantly chirping. ‘I need you to do this,’ ‘I need you to get one for us,’ and you know? He goes out and puts the team on his back.”
Ian MacKay then added a goal on the man advantage, and Danowski found Stanwick and then Josh Byrne to give the Bayhawks a 9-6 victory.
“I feel like we are winning in different ways, we score a bunch or win a tight defensive battle, and we just seem like every game is a different guy. It’s a deep team, it’s a young team and I kind of feel like the old guy in the locker room, but it has been a lot of fun.” Stanwick said.
The Bayhawks look to soar even higher and extend their winning streak against the Boston Cannons on July 2.